Had a talk with the teacher(s)

Yesterday afternoon, I finally had a nice long sit-down with the speech therapist, Miles’ teacher, and the school nurse.

After going through an overall analysis of Miles’ speech pattern (at 8 years old, he still doesn’t pronounce his Rs correctly), and establishing that he was responding fairly well to the speech therapist (having two other students from his class in there with him helps), I asked Lili and Miles to sit outside so that the gr’ups could talk brass tacks.

I told Miles’ teacher that with the stress, anxiety, and aggravation we were picking up from Miles, we were seriously considering home-schooling. Prior to this, when we spoke to Miles about it, he said that he loved the learning environment, but the “kids sucked”. I figured the best thing to do to help make this decision was to talk to his teacher – a very awesome lady, all things considered.

Her opinion was that, in a homeschooling environment, Miles could probably go a little faster and really start zipping through the grades. She admitted that he sometimes seems to be “held back” by the other students. BUT, she also added that so long as she made a point of addressing his “I’m bored” statements quickly, he didn’t seem to be experiencing that much stress. Socially, he gets along fine with the students in the class. He gets along better when he doesn’t have accidents for a while, and certainly when he’s nice and polite (there have been lapses in the past), and the incident in the school yard when he kicked a kid for ignoring him, while not completely isolated, was also not common. (I explained a little about Miles’ pre-conscious-memory history, and the lightbulb really went on for his teacher.) She also mentioned that his behavior, albeit a little rough around the edges, was still lightyears ahead of the other kids in many ways, and that a lot of his frustration probably stemmed from expecting them to be more mature. I agreed and asked if any of the attendees to this little meeting really felt it was in his best interest to either be subjugated to the next TEN YEARS of immaturity from his peers or else forced to regress.

The general concensus was that Miles doesn’t appear to want to tolerate either option, so he just sort of puts up with it and tries to get them (non-verbally) to come up to his level. In a few cases, it works. In others, not so much.

And the birthday party thing was just a stupid “don’t know them” problem. Half the kids didn’t even remember to take their invitations home, and the other half might not have even passed them on. “Next year,” the teacher said, “I strongly suspect it will be very different.”


So, in asking Lili and Miles about it again on the way home, they realized that acting out about school was definitely being paid attention to, and they had to really think about what they were asking. We weighed the pros and cons (again), and they decided that they want to summer-school at home, with a real structure and a real focus on keeping up with their studies, and still go to public school next year. “One more year.” “One year isn’t enough.” “Maybe a little more time…”

I realized last night that I will probably never really be okay with this. I know it’s important, and I know it’s doing them right to force them to acclimate to stupid people, but that doesn’t mean it’s ever going to feel good to me. My motto that’s gone through my head my entire life is, “There’s got to be a better way…” The system itself is painfully flawed and sometimes deeply disturbing. A handful of good people make a difference – don’t get me wrong, I know this – but is it enough?

I’m not going to force the kids to do something they don’t want to do, within reason. But is it dangerous enough to warrant a command decision? Is there enough therapy in the world to make up for the scars they have to get?

Dawn Written by:


  1. May 10, 2006

    I’d see how they feel about it at the end of the summer, and then talk to the teachers/faculty and tell them you expect progress reports or something, and you can always pull them out if it gets bad.

  2. May 10, 2006

           This meeting seems to have gone much better than you had anticipated that anything at the school would. I have to admit, though, that I’m concerned with your entire thought processes when it comes to public education. You talk about how the system is flawed and disturbing, and while I won’t disagree with you in that regard, it still manages to crank out some reasonably intelligent, well adjusted people. Most people come out of K-12 with no “scars” from the experience whatsoever. Any emotional scarring that I have seen to date doesn’t seem to come from the school system, what’s being taught, the school environment, etc… It seems to come from outside influences – other students, particular teachers or administrators perhaps, boy/girlfriends, parents, pressure for college, etc… Yeah, that’s all a part of that learning environment, but out of all that, you could remove the other students, teachers and administrators, and you still have the same potential for emotional scars – just from fewer sources.

           When you make comments like, “… is there enough therapy in the world to make up for the scars they have to get?”, it makes me wonder if you’re not seeing your scars on your children – sort of projecting them there? Children are amazingly resilient – I think I’ve heard you say so a number of times. The issues that you’re talking about with Miles in particular don’t seem to stem from the other children, but the other children do seem to make it worse. It’s a magnification of issues that are probably already there. On the other side of the coin, Miles could do very well as a home schooled individual and then when he emerges [so to speak] into society, he might very well have the exact same reactions to others that he’s having now because he hasn’t built up an immune system [so to speak] to the bullshit that other people carry around with them and spread all over the place.

           I’m not trying to attack you, how you raise your children [in fact, I use you as one of the best examples of parenting I’ve ever seen a lot] or how you’re perceiving events… I’m just wondering if you’re seeing things that are really just reflections of your own schooling experience… It’s something to think about [which I’m sure you already have].

    • May 10, 2006

      I just had a very amazing reading from a fellow WS student that helped to outline things a little better on where I’m coming from at the moment, and it boils down to this:

      Mother’s Day is coming up. I’m not handling it well.

      Yes, I know kids are resilient, and I have faith in that. What concerns me is that it’s such a small environment, and there is not nearly the opportunity for changing faces as there is in other, larger communities, and the trade-offs are questionable sometimes. Smaller classes mean (generally) a higher retention of knowledge as teachers are allowed to spend more energy on each student. It also means that there are fewer “buffer people” to ease situations, and the clannishness of the school as well as the community sets “exceptional” children up as targets.

      THOSE are the scars I’m talking about. And, yes, it’s my own experience that deeply colors this issue for me. When the administration put me in advanced classes, a year ahead of my peers, I was picked on viciously for being too small, too weird, too smart, etc. I didn’t make a single friend in my class in Kindergarten because I elected to go read by myself instead of doing the “together” things, which were mostly ABC exercises. Each year just got worse.

      And I understand that you’ve elected to work in the system, and I respect that, but even you have pointed out repeatedly how it’s not the kids that are important to administrations so much as appearances and bottom lines. The entire educational system – how subjects are taught and how the rules are enforced, etc. – emulated a “factory-worker factory” for years. Only in the last five to ten have things started to change even a little, and in far-flung regions like ours, not so much.

      I don’t want salt poured in open wounds, like with that damned book Lili has to read in class (“Out of the Dust”, it’s called). Like THAT’S not going to complicate things in therapy…

      • May 10, 2006

               Yes, the small environment has good and bad aspects to it. Chances are, Miles is going to be growing up with these same kids as years go by if he remains in that environment. This could be very good for him, actually, as he’ll learn to get along better with them and they’ll learn to get along much better with him as well. Hell, he might even be a good example for these kids and help to raise them up. It might be rough for Miles to become one of those exceptional targets, but would it be better for him to teach him how to deal with that [chances are, he’s going to be exceptional his entire life, so it might do him some good] and celebrate the fact that he’s different and exceptional without getting egotistical or bitter?

               My school system is a poor example of public education. Period. It’s the Murphy’s Law of school systems and it represents the absolute worst elements that a school district can possess. Yes, administrators are concerned with appearances and bottom lines, which is no different from administrators in any other job field. Teachers care. Counsellors care. Social workers care. Hell, I’ve got kids that come to me to talk things out because they don’t feel comfortable with anyone else – even kids that were never my own students. They will find a way to grow, perservere and develop into decent human beings. Schools are much less like factories than you might think – and becoming less so more and more every day. Honestly, according to everything that I’ve seen that doesn’t have some sort of a bias to it, schools haven’t been factory-like for the last couple of decades. Hell, sometimes it’s damn frustrating to have to teach the same material 28 different ways to 28 different kids just to make sure they get it, but you’ve got to appeal to each child’s individual learning style – something you can’t get certified before you’ve had training in. Colleges are very much aware of the stereotype and of appealing to each individual child’s needs, and train their staff accordingly. Things are only going to get better – unless No Child Left Behind kills public education first, but that’s another matter entirely.

               I would definitely check into whether or not you can get a reading list for the classes Lili takes next year, if she goes, first [same for Miles] and discuss content with the teachers at the beginning of the year. If a teacher insists on working with a particular book, and I’m going to check out this “Out of the Dust” book myself, see if you can have a different [more advanced] book used as a substitute. See if the teacher is accomodating like they’re supposed to be.

        • May 10, 2006

                 To clarify, what I meant by colleges training their staff accordingly, I meant to say that they’re teaching potential teacher candidates accordingly. You can’t get certified unless you take coursework in the developing child and coursework in different learning styles and how to appeal to them.

  3. May 10, 2006

    *sits* There are always scars. But the ones that learn to deal with them early deal with them best as adults. You’ve seen what happens when the sheltered kids are turned out into the real world. Do you want that for Lili and Miles?

    And he’s getting old enough that you should probably start thinking about what you’re going to do with Joseph as well. At least thinking now will give you time to cycle through the various stages to help you deal with it before it’s an issue in your face.

    I’d say a year isn’t enough for Lili and Miles. I had some years where my classmates were a bunch of idiots who thought that it was great fun to try to pick on me for being a bit above them. But I had other years where my classmates and I got along famously and you couldn’t tell which of us was “smartest”. Sometimes, the classes just don’t mix very well.

    • May 10, 2006

      I think you’ve made an excellent decision, and Miles and Lili got to “help” and that will really make a difference in the end. I know you will continue to push both of them to strive for higher intelligence and not let their peers’ limited brain matter hold them back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.